Home : Publications : Biography : Research : Alumni : Contact

Hugues Bedouelle - Biography

Hugues Bedouelle is currently "Invited Researcher" at Institut Pasteur and retired from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Previously, he was  Director of Research (1st class) at CNRS and director of the Associated Research Unit URA3012, entitled "Hosts, vectors and infectious agents: biology and dynamics", between Institut Pasteur and CNRS.

His research was centered on protein engineering, especially of antibodies, proteins from infectious agents, and their receptors; with applications in the fields of biosensors, therapeutic molecules and diagnostic reagents. He is also working actively on protein stability.

University studies
Hugues Bedouelle studied at University Paris Diderot - Paris 7. He obtained his graduation (license) in mathematics in 1970, completed his first year of Master's degree (maîtrise) in mathematics in 1971, and started his second year of Master's degree in Category Theory under the supervision of Professor Charles Ehresmann  (1). However, he provisionaly suspended his university studies during that year to concentrate on engineering studies (see below). Later, he undertook university studies in biology, first by attending the General Microbiology Course of Institut Pasteur in fall 1977, and then by preparing a doctoral thesis in Maurice Hofnung's laboratory at Institut Pasteur. He defended his thesis in 1983 on 
the export of proteins accross membranes and the regulation of maltose uptake in bacteria (2), and thus obtained a State Doctorate in Natural Sciences (equivalent to an Habilitation). During summer 1980, he spent a few months in Martin Rosenberg's group at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland (USA), in the frame of a collaboration.

Grandes Ecoles
Hugues Bedouelle also followed studies in engineering sciences in several French "Grandes Ecoles". He studied at the Ecole Centrale de Paris between 1969 and 1971, and graduated in 1975. He entered the Ecole Polytechnique in 1971 and graduated in 1974. He then completed his engineering studies at the Ecole des Mines de Paris, with courses on law, management and public administration, in 1974-1977, and obtained his diploma of "Ingenieur au Corps des Mines". During his years at the Ecole Polytechnique, Hugues Bedouelle was delegate of the students to the Department of Mathematics, then headed by Laurent Schwartz, and to the Teaching Council (3) During his years at the Ecole des Mines, he worked on environmental problems and in particular on the decrees of application of the first French law on environment.

Post-doctoral studies
In 1984-1986, Hugues Bedouelle obtained an EMBO fellowship and then a Royal Society fellowship to join Greg Winter's group, which belonged to the Division of Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, headed by Cesar Milstein, at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge (UK). There, he used the recent methods of protein engineering to study the molecular recognitions between tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase and its cognate transfer-RNA (4).

Direction of laboratories
Hugues Bedouelle came back at Institut Pasteur in 1986, where he founded a group of Protein Engineering. In 2000, he gathered colleagues who were working in the field of structural biology and scattered in several research departments of Institut Pasteur, and created the Associated Research Unit URA2185, entitled "Structural biology and infectious agents", between Institut Pasteur and CNRS (5). He was director of this unit between 2000-2003. In 2005, he gathered colleagues who were working at the interface between environment and infectious agents, and created the Associated Research Unit URA3012 between Institut Pasteur and CNRS, entitled "Hosts, vectors and infectious agents: biology and dynamics" (6). He has been director of this last unit between 2005 and 2014.

In 1974, Hugues Bedouelle integrated the Corps of Mines, a great technical corps of civil servants which is attached to the French Ministry in charge of industry. He was successively Ingenieur des Mines (1976), and then Ingenieur-en-chef des Mines (1983-1989). He integrated CNRS as attaché de recherche (1982), then became chargé de recherche (1983) and directeur de recherche (1989). He has been consultant for biotechnology at IFP - Energies Nouvelles between 1983-2012, and adviser of its Scientific Direction between 2000-2012.

Science and private life
In 1995, Hugues Bedouelle married Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, who is Director of Research (1st class) at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Assistant Director General for the Natural Sciences at UNESCO, and elected member of the South-African academy of sciences.

(1) During my studies in mathematics at University Paris 7, I attended the following courses and passed with good to very good marks in most (6/8) cases. 3rd year: Elementary topology (Prof. Michel Zisman), Modern theory of integration (Michel Hervé), Algebra (Paul Dubreil), Differential geometry (Marcel Berger). 4th year: Algebraic topology (Charles Ehresmann), Topological vector spaces (Pierre Lelong), Fiber bundles (Charles Ehresmann). 5th year: General theory of structured categories (Charles Ehresmann). At the Ecole Polytechnique, I especially remember the courses of Laurent Schwartz, Jacques Neveu and Max Karoubi. All these professors were mathematicians of great renown!

(2) The jury was composed of Jean-Paul Aubert, Sylvain Blanquet, Maurice Hofnung, Joël Janin, Jean-Claude Patte and Agnès Ullmann.

(3) For an account on life at Ecole Polytechnique in 1971-74, see:

Laurent Schwartz (1997) Un mathématicien aux prises avec le siècle. Editions Odile Jacob, Paris, p. 350. ISBN 2.7381.0462.2.
Laurent Schwartz (2001) A mathematician grappling with his century, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Chapter VII. ISBN 3.7643.6052.6

(4) For an account on research and scientists in the PNAC division of the MRC-LMB in 1984-86, see:
John Finch (2008) A Nobel fellow on every floor. Published by the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council. pp. 209-252. ISBN 978-1840469-40-0.

(5) The initial teams of URA2185 in 2000 were those of Pedro M. Alzari, Octavian Barzu, Hugues Bedouelle, Graham A. Bentley, Muriel Delepierre, Michel E. Goldberg and Daniel Ladant. Michel Véron and his team joined URA2185 in 2003. Muriel Delepierre replaced me as director of URA2185 from 2004.

(6) This associated research unit was initially created in 2005 as a provisional structure, FRE2849, with the teams of Paul T. Brey, Françoise Dromer, Nicole Guiso and Paul Reiter. It was then renewed in 2007 as URA3012 with the teams of Charles Roth (replacing Paul Brey who had left Paris to create the Institut Pasteur of Laos), Françoise Dromer, Nicole Guiso, Lluis Quintana-Murci and Paul Reiter. Later, Kenneth D. Vernick and his team joined URA3012 in 2008, Anavaj Sakuntabhai and his team in 2013.